A Bay Area man faces life in prison after a jury convicted him Friday of pimping out a teenager he met through Craigslist.
Richard Scott Brooks, 40, of San Francisco, had been charged with 23 offenses, including forcible rape, pimping and sodomy. While he was acquitted on four counts and convicted of lesser charges on six, the jury convicted him of the most serious offenses, two counts of human trafficking of a minor for sex.
He will be sentenced Dec. 29.
After the verdict was read, the jury foreman declined to comment.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Greg Devitt characterized Brooks as a “sexual deviant” who took advantage of a scarred 17-year-old who had been molested by her grandfather.
“She’s vulnerable. She’s weak,” Devitt said in his closing argument to jurors before turning his attention to the defendant. “When he casts his electronic net on Craigslist, she’s exactly the kind of girl he looks for.”
Defense attorney Matt Guerrero, however, characterized both the defendant and the victim as sexual “libertines,” who lacked moral boundaries and restraints. The victim, referred to in court as Jane Doe, pursued sexual activity with Brooks, Guerrero said, and told him she was 18.
“This is not somebody that’s being taken advantage of,” Guerrero said during his closing argument. “This is someone who’s taking part in sexual activity.”
The X-rated trial included explicit sexual descriptions and required jurors to watch several sex videos that Brooks had recorded. But jurors listened attentively, without reacting to the language or images many would consider obscene.
The girl responded to an ad Brooks had posted on Craigslist, a classified website, while her mother and younger sister were out of state in July 2014, according to trial testimony. In her responses to Brooks, she suggested she wanted to be controlled, at one point suggesting she could be a sex slave.
She’s a girl.
Deputy District Attorney Greg Devitt, to jurors
“I wanted somebody who was dominant,” she testified during the trial.
She eventually agreed to pick up Brooks in the Bay Area and bring him to her home in Los Osos. But on her way there, she had reservations, she told jurors. Once she met him, she testified, she felt obligated because he spoke threateningly and mentioned that he had been in prison.
“He told me that I was basically his property,” she testified. “I had to listen to and do what he said.”
Miss Doe is not the one who’s on trial.
Deputy District Attorney Greg Devitt
In Los Osos they had sex multiple times over a four-day span. As videos of the encounters were played for jurors, she testified that she did enjoy herself during the activity, Guerrero said. The two also went shopping one day.
But Devitt said Brooks manipulated her, and some of the sex occurred after she had passed out from alcohol consumption.
Jane Doe had just turned 17 a month earlier, he said.
“She’s a girl, right?” he told jurors. “She’s a girl.”
This is not somebody who’s being taken advantage of.
Matt Guerrero, attorney for Richard Brooks
While in Los Osos, Devitt said, Brooks posted an ad seeking to pimp the girl out to others. One respondent wrote, “I think she is underage, and she should not be with you.” But Brooks continued to seek men willing to pay for sex with the girl, Devitt said.
“He wants money,” Devitt. “And she’s the cash cow.”
Brooks — whom Devitt described as semi-employed and homeless — did recruit one man, Oscar Higueros, to the house, asking for $150 for a half an hour, according to trial testimony.
On the stand, Brooks admitted to making $150 while in Los Osos, but he said it was from web design work he did with a client he met in Morro Bay.
On July 28, the day she had sex with Higueros, Jane Doe told Brooks he had to leave the house because her boyfriend was returning to town the next day.
“If Mr. Brooks were a pimp, she wouldn’t tell him to leave,” Guerrero said.
After he left, Jane Doe sent him a text declaring, “You’re the best daddy ever. I love you, Daddy.”
On Aug. 3, Devitt said, Brooks posted another Craigslist ad, offering to share the teen with others.
Although the teen made bad decisions, Devitt said, she did not deserve to be raped for them.
“Miss Doe is not the one who’s on trial,” he said.
The teen is expected to testify again when Higueros goes to trial on Jan. 11.
During that trial, according to a court document, the prosecution wants to present seven other women who were allegedly sexually assaulted by Higueros.